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Carefully consider all the candidates running for president

John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM | 2/29/2016, 12:14 p.m.
As we close out another Black History Month, many communities throughout the world held events to commemorate one of the ...
John E. Harmon, Sr

As we close out another Black History Month, many communities throughout the world held events to commemorate one of the most significant 29 days of America’s history. When Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week in 1926, he envisioned a multitude of people would give pause to reflect on the contributions that blacks made to the establishment of the United States as today’s world super power and the largest economy of over $19 trillion dollars. An amazing feat for a country which was founded by immigrants, some arriving here in search of a new life, while my ancestors came to America shackled and chained to a large vessel, however, possessing the ability to build a great nation, notwithstanding.

Immigration is one of the leading issues in the current race to succeed President Barack Obama, amongst a field of interesting candidates. However, before I jump into national politics, I want to remind you that New Jersey is preparing to elect its next governor. Although there has not been any official announcement, there are a number of unannounced candidates on the democratic side. You may hear whispers of names like Sweeney, Fulop, Wisniewski, Pierce, Lesniak, and Murphy to name a few. However, the Republicans have not tipped their hand regarding who they may be eyeing to succeed Governor Chris Christie as head of their party. This leads me to my initial question for a prospective New Jersey, African American Democratic voter who plans to vote in the upcoming Governor’s race in 2017. According to an Edison Research exit poll, over 78% of African American voters in New Jersey voted for Barbara Buono versus 21% for Governor Christie. This was significant representation from the African American community; therefore, my first question would be, what were the leading issues in Senator Buono’s platform that led to such strong support? I would speculate that the overriding reason was that she represented the Democratic Party, a good reason, but it should not be the deciding factor for your choice for the next governor, especially with such a potentially wide field of candidates.

My advice to the readers of this column is that you seek answers from the field of potential candidates on their plans to address some of the systemic challenges that affect New Jersey’s 1.1 million African American residents and 66,000 businesses. Challenges such as the high poverty and unemployment rate among African Americans.

Equity issues such as the suspension of the state’s contracting goals for minorities and women under a Democratic administration.

And addressing why is it that 93% of New Jersey’s 66,000 African American business owners have no employees but between 2002 -2007 grew at the highest level of all businesses in the state (66%) according to the US Economic Census?

We should also include questions about African American incarceration and dropout rates.

The individuals seeking to become New Jersey’s next governor should begin to identify solutions to these challenges because they are critical to the economic growth and sustainability of the African American community in New Jersey.